Yesterday, official word came that the New York Times had finally found the replacement for outgoing architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff in Michael Kimmelman, a longtime Times vet. The knives came out quickly on Twitter (above), which we found odd given the near universal dislike of Ouroussoff, the general goodness of Kimmelman's architect profiles for the NYT Mag and his writing in general, and the possibility—dare imagine!—that a new critic actually could herald a bold new day for the paper's architectural writing.
Seeking understanding beyond 140 characters, we reached out to a few smart folks inside the world of architecture we know for their takes.
SOURCE A: "I'd compare it to Frank Bruni coming back from Rome to take the restaurant beat. But I'd guess dollars also figure in it. The Times is looking to trim costs, and having Kimmelman roaming around Europe filing just as their art critic was a big expense. Now, they've cut it off while filling a slot at home, and Kimmelman can do his travel reportage while on assignment. So it just makes perfect sense. I know architects are all aghast that he's not one of them, and all the other critics are upset because they're jealous and he hasn't paid his dues in the architectural trenches. To which I'll just add: wah wah wah."
SOURCE B: "Don’t know what to make of it yet! Although I have liked his writing in the past. Cautiously optimistic? Does that play?"
SOURCE C: "No surprises here. The writing was on the wall for a long time, even before Ouroussoff quit/was asked to leave. The buzz for several years has been that Ouroussoff had so botched the job that the Times was soured on the very idea of an architecture critic. So here we are: now they don't have one. Add the very NYT notion that any good journalist can journalize about any subject and the current budget crunch that makes the brass think it pays to hire from within... and it's like, duh, of course. It's also interesting to note that they are referring to Kimmelman internally as the 'chief' architecture critic. Which of course implies a surround of little princelings. Not at all a disaster, even if he hogs the column inches; Kimmelman won't be any worse than Ouroussoff. Probably a lot better!"
Further thoughts? Share them in the comments. But only if they're especially mean.
· Archicritics: Kimmelman In as New NYT Architecture Critic [Curbed]